Social media lynch mobs

People who pick up their digital pitchforks and digital torches to join a social media lynch mob are incapable of seeing their own sin.

We have all said things we would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper, the lead story on the nightly news, or the top headline on a popular news website. Before the internet generally and social media specifically, that generally did not ruin someone’s life or make him a nationally (or even internationally) infamous target of scorn. It could damage someone’s life, but did not spread across the world in seconds. Today, so much of our lives are lived in public that it is too easy for people to be made infamous by one stupid thing they do or say – largely due to an overly judgmental public.

One of the most unfortunate byproducts is the social media lynch mob. When someone says something especially stupid or offensive (and sometimes not nearly as stupid or offensive as it originally seems, because it was misinterpreted) they are targeted for destruction. They get people calling their employer and harassing their place of business, and they are denounced and humiliated all over Facebook and Twitter. But do we really want to ruin people’s lives over one stupid thing they say on social media?

Yes, generally we should be careful about what we say. But as the Bible says in James 3, no man can tame the tongue. So before you become inflamed about the latest offensive Tweet or Facebook post that comes across your news feed, have a little perspective. Realize that you walk there but for the grace of God – and in most cases you have done the same thing but did not record your stupidity with a keyboard, microphone or video camera. Have some humility and grace, and stop acting on a hair trigger all the time. The targets of the social media lynch mobs are not just pixels. They are people, just like you and me, with flaws and virtues.

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